First of all, Happy 4th to all you Americans, immigrants and people who just like to blow shit up, but especially to you staunch nationalists out there, who for today we overlook and implicitly embrace your xenophobia.

And a happy early Independence Day, which we celebrate tomorrow; the first day of free of agent for those bound by the shackles of gainful, contractual NHL employment. For the Kings, tomorrow likely means independence from Rob Scuderi and Dustin Penner. Penner we all mostly expect to sign elsewhere and we are pretty much OK with that. We like the big, smiling jokester and for two months out of the season, we even love him. Fret not, we’ll always have his twitter.

Rob Scuderi, the one that will get away. Along with the cavalcade of apathy when Penner signs elsewhere, a river of moans will flow when Scuderi inks a deal with the Islanders or Leafs or whoever else.

But should they?

Do we really want to keep Rob Scuderi?

In a cap free world, absolutely. In reality, I find myself leaning ever more towards a certain opinion of Scuderi: fuck ‘em.

I don’t begrudge him in any way his desire to seek the most financial security and term, or what is perhaps simply a strong desire to live again closer to his native coast. Truly, I don’t think him greedy or a turncoat, his priorities do not bother me. Would I like him to take the discount necessary to stay? Sure. But therein lies the problem, I don’t think the $2.5-3 million we have to comfortably offer him is a discount, I think it’s what he is worth.

With the playoffs firmly exfoliated, I’ve had more time to think back on the season. Suddenly I remembered a fairly common recurrence during games – leaning over and asking Scribe “What the fuck is wrong with Scuderi?”

Yeah, come to think of it, he sucked for a lot of the season.

Well, maybe sucked is a strong word. But the normally unnoticeable Piece made himself noticed and with Rob Scuderi’s game, being noticed is a bad thing. What little foot speed he had is fast fading. His decision making lacked expediency. The breakout passes, too often tapeless. Veteran wiles, failing him.

Scuderi is still a damn good defensemen. He will benefit any team that signs him and he would benefit ours to stay. However, his skill set is deteriorating and the Kings can play strong defense without him. There are other options out there more commensurate with our spending capabilities, Andrew Ference being the one I would target. But we can also fill this role from within. Perhaps the time of Andrew Campbell nears. Alec Martinez had an off year, but we all know him to be capable. Jake Muzzin has all the opportunity to burst onto the scene after his first offseason spent training with the knowledge and experience of what NHL hockey truly demands. Of course, those two need to be signed, but I venture to assume they will. (UPDATE – while I was writing this, Ellerby signed a one year deal, so there is also that) Are these options as good as Scuderi? No. But will they suffice? I think so. More importantly, I think they will have to.

A lack of defense is not what bounced the Kings from the Western Conference Finals and even without Mitchell and Greene for the majority of the year, and with Scuderi not playing anywhere near his best, the Kings defense maintained it’s echelon high amongst the NHL ranks. The Kings, as ever save for one playoff run under Lombardi, lack for goals. That Scuderi money is better spent on a winger.

Let’s forget the fact that Mitchell may still return, and if he does, this concern over keeping Scuderi is rendered entirely moot. I’m not counting on that, but regardless of the defense iced, Tyler Toffoli may not be enough on his own to boost the Kings offense in the upcoming season. While even average production from Kopitar and Brown gives us the benefit of a middling offensive team, an Iginla, Ryder or Jagr may better serve this team than Scuderi. There is the long shot of Nathan Horton, or an interesting option in Damien Brunner. Point being, if I have only $2-3 million to spend, I think I’m spending it on offense.

Regardless of whether I am right or insane, it’s the midnight hour and come sunrise, all signs point to Scuderi having sucked down his last bacon wrapped hot dog outside of Staples Center. The Piece served us well and once he does sign elsewhere, we will write him the proper send off he deserves.

But for now, the mountains required to sign him that need moving can stay put. If he was willing to take close to $3 million to stay, he’d have signed weeks ago. Since he isn’t, fuck ‘em.

Now bust out those explosives, and I don’t just mean the diarrhea from eating sloppy BBQ in the pool, throw back a beer and party in the sun until your skin turns red, the chicken patties turn white and you stop feeling blue.

Go America.

Go Kings.